Friday, February 11, 2011

{practicing gratitude}

I had this amazing conversation with my adult son a couple of weeks ago. He's gone back to college and is taking a philosophy class. I can so, totally, do philosophy.

So, we chatted, and talked, and commiserated, and agreed, and then, disagreed, and then realized that we actually were saying the same thing, and agreed to ... agree.

It's fun to have adult conversations with my children.

Toward what was becoming the end of our phone conversation, I told him how I feel about the power of positive energy. I told him that I believe what we put into the world is what we get back - for good or bad.

And I challenged him to practice gratitude. I told him that if he would find one thing, however silly he may think it is, and express gratitude for that one thing every day it would change his life.

Unfortunately, I've been in a bit of a funk these days. There are some things going on that I won't share, but that have caused me to forget that really incredible, really important lesson - what we put out is what we get back, and if I put out negative energy, that's what comes back to me.

So, I'm being proactive, and I've decided to devote one day a week, publicly, on my blog, to remember that even when I feel like things are going really bad, that I have so much to be thankful for. I have an incredible life, and I am incredibly lucky.

From now until I find something else shiny to take my attention, I will be reserving Friday's post for {practicing gratitude}.

Feel free to join me, either on your own blog or in the comments (but if you put it on your own blog, be sure to leave a comment so that everyone can find you :). There are no rules, except that you should simply state (or verbosely pontificate, as I will do) on those things for which you are grateful.

Today, I am grateful that I was born when I was and where I was. There has never been a better time or place in recorded history to be a woman. We have more freedom, more opportunity, than women have ever had.

I'm a lucky girl :), and for that one stroke of fortune over which I had no personal control, I am very grateful.


  1. Now I'm wondering what it was like to be a woman in unrecorded history!

  2. That was not very verbose! We have a lot for which to be grateful.

  3. Kaye - LOL! There is some evidence that women had a more prominent place in more primitive cultures - that they were what we are trying to be and that is "equal." And not equal in that they had the same role in society as men, but rather that their role was deemed as important as a man's role. It is believed that early non-monotheistic religions placed both male and female energy on the same level in that each was as important as the other. As such there was no "place" for women, per se. Women had an important role in the social structure, as did men, and women wouldn't be physically or spiritually sacrificed - as they have been since the world became so patriarchal.

    None of it is written down, though, and it's all supposition and anecdotal. It's what anthropologists believe - which is why I specified "recorded history", because throughout recorded history women have been oppressed and subjugated to men.

    Captain, my Captain ... I mean, Deus Ex Machina :) - I concur! Very much to be thankful for :).

  4. I also make a point of being grateful for one thing every day.

    Today it's my house. It is sooooooo cold in NB right now ( -28 Celcius with wind chill) and my house is doing exactly what it's supposed to do: protect me and my family.

    So thank you, house.

  5. Every day I drive to work, I pull into a parking spot, shut the car off, and thank God for getting me there in one piece. Then I do the same when I finish the drive home.

    Some days it's more heartfelt than others.

  6. Wendy, you don't have to post this if you don't want to - I would have prefered asking you directly, but I couldn't find an email address to send my question to.

    I know you homeschool - or unschool, if that is the more correct term. You have very strong feelings about education and parenting. You also don't shy away from reviewing books on your blog. So my question was, have you read "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother"? and if so, would you be willing to discuss your reaction to it on your blog?

    I'm in the middle of reading this book, and I follow several blogs from mothers with a strong interest in parenting/education, but to my surprise, no one has discussed this book on their blog (a shocker, considering the outrage and controversy surrounding it).

  7. patricialynn - I have not read the book, but here is a commentary about the book by a woman who is in my homeschooling community.

    I have to say, based on what she says, I’m not terribly interested in reading the book, as I know, going in, I would disagree with 90% of what Chua says, and that potential 10% would not be convincing enough for me to spend the money on the book.

    But I’m also coming from a very different place than Chua. I don't believe our current way of life is sustainable, and I don't believe that our current educational model will prepare our children to live in a lower energy future. When oil is scarce and expensive, we're not going to have leagues of people who work in high-rise office buildings (indeed we may not even be able to heat those buildings) for a living, and our children will need more practical skills - things Chua's children might learn in those subjects she eschews, but which they will never know if their education is limited to the traditional three R’s. Much of what our children learn in school will be useless in a lower energy future.

    According to what the author of the above linked article says, Chua is teaching her children that the “arts” (in particular drama) and physical fitness are not important. Yet, historically, during economic hard times, people have always been willing to pay for entertainment. Vaudeville was hugely popular during the Great Depression ;), and during Shakespeare’s time, the theatres were full – especially the lower yard where the less affluent masses stood to watch the show. Further, if we don’t have machines to do the work for us, we’re going to have to use our bodies to get the work done, but if we have failed to condition our bodies to do work, we’re going to get injured.

    Again, I haven’t read the book, and perhaps, I don’t fully understand what is in it, as I’m basing my whole opinion on what someone else (who hasn’t read the book *grin*) says about it, but I really don’t agree with “authoritarian” parenting or educating styles, in general. They may seem to be working in the short-term, but long-term, I think they do nothing by harm.

    I would love to chat with you about it, and you could even correct any of my misconceptions about the book. My email address is my first name at my blog address (not the blog name, not "Surviving the Suburbs") followed by the usual dots and coms.

  8. I'll have to email you tomorrow about it (we have guests coming in a few minutes, so I don't have time to do it right now).

    Just wanted to mention that she did teach her daughters some of the arts. Her oldest has played piano at Carnegie and her youngest is a highly skilled violinist.

    I finished the book last night (it's short, and her writing style is easy to get through). I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about it.

    If it helps, here's an article written by the author which explains the first part of the book well:

  9. patricialynn - that's the same article that was linked to the review above ;).

    I find her examples of the way she treats her children incredibly abusive, and while she may not feel like she suffered from being called "garbage" by her father, I suspect it had some impact on her. Perhaps the end result was positive in that she became a Yale Professor, but is being a hard-driven perfectionist such a good thing?

    This phrase also struck me as being complete bullshit: ... children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. If that work has value to them, they will be completely interested in working - which is the philosophy of most unschoolers.

    The homeschooling community is full of high-performing individuals. For example, Chris Paolini who wrote the Eragon series was homeschooled. And, perhaps, Chua would argue that Taylor Swift isn't successful, but she was taught three guitar chords by repairman when she was ten, and then, SHE, through no coersion or force from her parents, decided to take it to the next level.

    No, not every homeschooler will do great things but I submit that neither does every Chinese person even those raised by Chinese parents in China.

    Chua mentions the cultural differences, and I think that's the key. Chinese lifestyles are very different than the way we live in the US. Amy Tan's fiction explores how those differences play out in mother-daughter reslationships, and how damaging the misunderstandings between the two generations can be, because the American-born daughters don't have the cultural clues necessary to really undersand their mothers' actions.

    I guess the bottom line is that if Chua thinks she's doing a good job, then more power to her, but I would never call my daughter garbage for something as insignficant and petty as a math grade, because doing well in math does not reflect on the kind of person she is or will become. A friend told me recently that my girls were "kind", and they are, because they are treated kindly. Perhaps I'm being naive, but I place more value in their treatment of others than in the possibility that they might play in Carnegie Hall some day.

  10. I find myself agreeing with you, for the most part. My own philosophy in child rearing is that you can't raise all your children the same way. Some kids respond very well to the "Chinese" form of parenting (sans insults, of course). Some kids respond better to the "Western" style, and some kids respond better to different forms of child rearing.

    Each child is unique, an individual, and that individuality needs to be respected. You do that with unschooling (and isn't it annoying that my spell checker refuses to recognize "unschooling" as a word?). I try to do that with my kids.

    I find that in some ways, the Chinese style works very well for my middle child. He definitely needs to be pushed into trying an activity, but once he does it, he usually finds he loves it. But if he tries it and doesn't like it, I don't press. My other two boys tend to throw themselves into any new activity with minimal encouragement, so they don't respond to being pushed as much.

    Thank you for your insight and thoughts. I still think you might want to read the book, because in the end, the author comes to the realization that her younger daughter wasn't the kind of child who responded well to the Chinese style, and she changed her parenting style accordingly and found major improvement almost immediately. She freely admits, at the end of the book, that the Chinese style of parenting was NOT superior. It was definitely worth the time I spent reading it.